Syrian activists have launched a campaign under the title “Camps of Death” to shed light on the suffering of civilians who are fleeing ISIS-held areas in northern Syria to the areas under the control of the militias of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF militias prevent the IDPs from seeking refuge in the towns and villages in the areas under their control and instead force them into camps that were set up in the desert and which lack the basic necessities of life.
Intensifying battles and airstrikes by the international anti-ISIS coalition on the ISIS-held areas in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor have caused an exodus of civilians mostly to the SDF-held areas. According to reports by human rights groups and local activists, the international coalition is using cluster bombs and the white phosphorus in the bombardment of ISIS-held areas.
Moreover, the ISIS extremist group is forcing the young people in the areas under its control to join its ranks.
Falak Hussein, director of the online campaign, said that the only way for civilians out of the ISIS-held areas in the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, and Hasakah is towards the areas under the control of the SDF militias.
Hussein pointed out that the IDPs camps that were set up by the SDF militias are no more than detention centers as the militias prevent residents of these camps from leaving towards the FSA-held areas or Turkey. The militias allow people out only if they have a “guarantor” in the area which they want to go to or if they pay large sums of money, sometimes as high as 1,000 US dollars.
“The situation in detention centers is better than that in the SDF-controlled camps,” Hussein added. She said that the SDF militias impose almost impossible conditions for civilians to get out of these camps. In some camps, such as the Saad IDPs camp, the SDF militias have completely stopped letting people out in recent weeks.
Erected in desert, desolate areas, the camps lack the basic necessities of life. Hussein said that more than ten deaths were recorded in the Karama IDPs camp and six others in the Saad camp.
Hussein called on the international community and international organizations to open humanitarian corridors for civilians fleeing from the areas witnessing clashes and from the areas under the control of ISIS which forcibly recruit the young men to fight in its ranks. She also called for putting the camps under international supervision; ensure protection for residents of these camps; and the delivery of live-saving supplies and basic necessities of life.
Angie Sidqi, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria, earlier said that more than 40 IDPs camps were set up in relatively remote areas in northeastern Syria that are home to around 70,000 people. In addition to being located in hard-to-reach areas, the camps are located in the heart of the desert where snakes and scorpions pose a daily threat to the residents of the camps. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Qasioun News Network)